Fantasy Doctor: Incognito situation tears attention away from actual football

Jonathan Martin left the Miami Dolphins more than two weeks ago.

After reportedly being bullied by his teammates, Martin sought out treatment and took a personal leave of absence to spend time with his family. Media outlets sifted through the rumors and discovered the source of what pushed the second-year offensive lineman over the edge: fellow Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito.

Since then, criticism has been directed in various forms toward Incognito, the Dolphins locker and even the NFL itself. It’s been about accountability. It’s been about taking action to improve locker room culture. Some of it’s even been about manning up and dealing with the bullying head on — which can be a little hard to do when someone is threatening the safety of your family.

Because of news sources like ESPN, FOX and NBC, people who follow sports know about the situation. When they hear the name Incognito, they hear it with an appropriate negative connotation, and it leaves behind a bad taste for whoever speaks it. But while these sources have made Incognito the target topic, they have also successfully kept alive the infamy — and that’s bad for football.

This is a problem, but the NFL is addressing it with a thorough investigation. Once they’re done, then the conversation can tip in the direction of solutions. But in the meantime, I want to watch an entire primetime football game — pregame and postgame talks included — and not hear “what needs to be done about the Incognito situation?”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Monday night, I turned on ESPN for one reason: Mike James was on my fantasy team. I wanted him to run, I wanted him to score, and as long as he could do that I didn’t care who won. Instead, though, I made the unfortunate mistake of tuning in early, and received an earful as a result. Honestly, it killed my drive, and I barely made it through the first half — though that could be because James failed my fantasy team.

I’m not saying we should push this under the mat. I’m saying it’s being addressed, it’s being investigated and all that can be done will be done — so why continue talking about it? Professional football has been an escape from everyday life for me for years, where I can put my homework, dodge Christmas shopping and forget about the fact that I will only ever be above average at sports.

As a fan and fantasy owner, I can’t help but notice the irony of the name Incognito drawing the spotlight on talk shows. I suppose this is just how modern-day sports work, and nothing I’ll ever say will change that. But that’s why I write these columns, because I like football as a professional sport not as a high school gym class. And I know most of you do, too, because that’s what fantasy football is all about.

We love the game.

Playoffs are coming, and this could be your last week to make a stand. Don’t forget to check out your fantasy doctor’s top picks for starts and sits in Week 11.


Russell Wilson (quarterback, Seahawks) — If you’re one of those teams with two good quarterbacks, and your lesser happens to be Wilson, this is the week to bump him up to No. 1. Let’s look at his Week 11 situation. Wilson has thrown for over 200 yards in the last two weeks, including two passing touchdowns in each. He will be facing meager Minnesota pass defense at home. Injuries to the Seahawks offensive line may force Wilson out of the pocket more often, but this game should ultimately be in Wilson’s control.

Torrey Smith (wide receiver, Ravens) — Charles Tillman is done for the season, which makes a weak Bears secondary even weaker. Chicago doesn’t stand a chance of locking Smith down this week. A minimal damage prediction could see Smith held to a single touchdown, but even that’s great for a receiver who has been quiet for all but three games this season. As long as Joe Flacco doesn’t suddenly mix up his game, Smith should be a high-value start in Week 11 against a Chicago defense that has fallen so far in the rankings this year.   


Terrelle Pryor (quarterback, Oakland) —A rushing touchdown saved his fantasy numbers from being abysmal in Week 10, but even then his numbers were mediocre at best. It’s easy to understand why you might have Pryor on the roster with all of the injuries to quarterbacks this season, but it’s hard to imagine him throwing all over Houston in Week 11 with a bad knee. If you can afford it, keep Pryor out or risk watching the league’s top pass defense eat his productivity alive.

Kansas City Chiefs defense  — As I said in my last column, the Broncos are going to give the Chiefs defense a tough time. Peyton Manning isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, especially when the conference hangs in the balance. San Diego and Oakland are practically out of the contention, which means the AFC West will likely depend on the two matchups between the Broncos and Chiefs. That doesn’t bode well for the Chiefs defense, especially in Denver on Sunday night. Whether the Chiefs will win isn’t the question. It’s whether they are capable of halting the Broncos dangerous 35.8 points per game — and that’s not a risk worth taking.

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.